“The light of loving-kindness can be compared to that of the stars, the sun, or the moon. It shines on all loving beings everywhere, encompassing them all without exception or bias.”
We are completing our first full week of this year’s May Is For Metta practice today. Take a few moments to honor yourself for the efforts you are making to be more loving and awake. Know that as you are strengthening the energies of loving-kindness and compassion in your self, your are entering into a transformational process of integrating the energy of the heart into your life, your relationships and the world. With each moment you dedicate to practice, whether it be in formal sitting practice or by bringing Metta into the experience of your daily life, you are become a generator of loving-kindness and compassion. Imagine if each person would take this time as we are, what our world might be like!
Today, we will move on to the next the category – Beloved. A Beloved is simply a family member or close friend. Beloveds are those we have built close relationships with; those whom we trust and feel positive toward. Take a moment to select a few friends or family members; feel into whom you feel most called to offer your practice to today. Call up the image of Beloved who has come to mind, feel into your heart center and say a round of phrases. Which one feels most resonant right now? This practice is helping you to choose but also helping you to experience more of what is in your heart and how to make choices that are in alignment with your heart’s desires rather than with the mind. Learning to let your heart be your guide is a part of moving into a new way of being.
Do your foundational practices. We begin as always by cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves as this is the foundation for offering it to others. Get comfortable and settle into your breath. Spend a few moments centering on your heart. Imagine yourself sitting in a circle surrounded by loving beings. Say a few rounds of phrases for your self or spend longer as you feel to.
- May I be safe.
- May I be happy.
- May I be peaceful.
- May I be free from suffering.
When you feel centered in the energy of loving-kindness bring an image of the Beloved you have chosen clearly into your mind. Let yourself feel what it feels like to be in the presence of that being. Allow yourself to enjoy being with that person. Begin by saying to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and free from suffering, may you be happy and free from suffering.” Then begin repeating the phrases for your Beloved:
- May he/she be safe.
- May he/she be happy.
- May he/she be peaceful.
- May he/she be free from suffering.
Find the language for the phrases that works best for you. You may wish to refer to this other being as YOU, talking to them directly, you may wish to use their NAME or you may wish to use the THIRD person, He or She. Explore this a bit and see what works for you.
Often, offering Metta for the Beloved may feel easy for you. Usually, we are deepening the already good feelings we have for this person. However, sometimes difficult feelings may arise. You may feel anxiety or worry for your Beloved friend or family member. You may remember something upsetting that happened in relating with them and feel angry, annoyed or frustrated. You may feel envious of some experience your Beloved is having, a happier relationship, a better job or a more carefree life. Just know that these are natural feelings to have as a human being.
If you do have difficult emotions arising, just notice and gently return to the Metta phrases for your Beloved. Know it is the nature of the mind to take us to these places in ourselves; it is the practice of meditation to return to the present moment and to the place we choose to place our attention. Even when it’s challenging, this is the place of freedom, when we are in the moment and all of those thoughts, feelings and memories do not define us. Use the phrases to bring yourself back to the moment and to offering loving-kindness to your Beloved one.
If at any point, difficult emotions continue to dominate your attention, use the “Switchback” practice to return to repeating the phrases for yourself as this is an important part of practicing loving-kindness – we work with all of who we are, the parts we like and the parts we don’t like. We are bringing to light those shadow parts that cause us so much pain and suffering. In response, we are not rejecting ourselves or judging ourselves, but we are accepting and loving ourselves unconditionally. This is one of the great gifts of Metta and one of the most powerful gifts we can offer to ourselves and to others.
Practice as long as you feel to or have committed to for today. Take a few moments at the end to dedicate the merit of your practice for all beings. You can do this in any way that feels appropriate to you and we will explore this more later on in our practice. Here is a simple way to dedicate the merit of your practice for all beings:
- May all beings have happiness and it’s cause.
- May all beings be free of suffering, joyous content and at ease.
- May all beings be balanced in equanimity towards one and all.
- May the merit of my practice be for my own benefit and for that of all sentient beings.
Daily Journal Reflections:
Take some time to reflect and journal about any experiences, feelings or awareness that arose during your practice or throughout the day today.
- How did it feel to practice Metta for a Beloved?
- Was it different from practicing for a Benefactor/Mentor?
- How is your practice going?
- Are you able to continue making some time everyday to sit or practice in some way?
- If not, what is stopping you?
- What is your commitment to yourself right now in terms of making time to bring more loving-kindness into your life?
Remember, practicing can be any way that works for you? Five minutes will do if that’s all you have. But keep in mind that research has shown that 15 minutes a day of Lovingkindness practice can create a positive shift in our overall attitude toward life.
May you experience a blessed and joyful day.
Tashi Deleh! (I honor the greatness within you!).